Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Best Man - Kristan Higgins (HQN - Mar 2013)

Series: Blue Heron (Book 1)


Faith Holland left her hometown after being jilted at the altar. Now a little older and wiser, she's ready to return to the Blue Heron Winery, her family's vineyard, to confront the ghosts of her past, and maybe enjoy a glass of red. After all, there's some great scenery there….

Like Levi Cooper, the local police chief -- and best friend of her former fiancé. There's a lot about Levi that Faith never noticed, and it's not just those deep green eyes. The only catch is she's having a hard time forgetting that he helped ruin her wedding all those years ago. If she can find a minute amidst all her family drama to stop and smell the rosé, she just might find a reason to stay at Blue Heron, and finish that walk down the aisle.

Good book.  Faith has come home after three years away, to help out at the family winery.  In her small town it's hard to get past everyone's memory of her being left at the altar but she's trying.  She also has to face Levi, the man she still holds responsible for ruining her wedding.  There are also the typical dramas she has to deal with in her family.  She needs to decide if she's going to come back home to stay or head back to California as soon as she can.

I liked Faith.  There was a lot more to her than was first apparent.  In high school she seemed to be the slightly spoiled, always perky youngest daughter of one of the rich families.  Her boyfriend is the ultra popular and best looking guy who is also the quarterback.  Everything goes along great for eight years as they date, then get engaged.  Then on the day of the wedding, right at the altar, Levi forces Jeremy to finally come clean with Faith - he's gay. Faith is devastated and flees to San Francisco where she works for three years before being called home.  Her siblings need her to save their father from a gold-digger and use her talents to improve the winery grounds.  I loved the way she was happy to come home.   She was homesick, missed her family and her hometown.  She hasn't quite gotten up the nerve to see her ex-fiance yet, but she's getting there.  She has had a couple encounters with Levi though.  She's still angry with him and is pretty darn snarky around him.  Their encounter at the bar, where he has to rescue her is hilarious.  She still gets the feeling that he doesn't like her whenever they meet.  When she ends up moving into the apartment next door to him there are more encounters that start feeling like they're not so adversarial.  There's also a heat growing between them that she doesn't know what to do about.  I really liked the slow growing of their friendship as they learned more about each other.  Faith gets really frustrated with Levi's unwillingness to talk, especially about emotions.  She is incredibly moved when he takes the time to do the research that ends her  guilty feelings over the death of her mother.  Those feelings have affected the way she feels about her family and the new information gives her the courage to talk to them about her mother.

Levi was definitely the strong silent type.  He had been friends with Jeremy since high school.  He had suspected that Jeremy was gay from the moment they met, but it never made a difference to him.  He was concerned about Jeremy's inability to admit it, especially as things got more serious with Faith.  He finally had to say something before both Jeremy and Faith made a mistake that would be devastating to them both.  However, that put him on Faith's hate list, a difficult place to be since they were both still friends with Jeremy.  Levi also suffers from a bit of inferiority complex because he has grown up on the poor side of town, also causing him to look at Faith rather cynically.  By the time he comes back from the army he has lived down his "trailer park" past and is now the police chief, a job he really enjoys.  He is also the guardian of his younger sister who is giving him fits about staying at college.  When Faith returns to town he's expecting more of the same girl she was when she left.  He soon finds himself pretty amused by the scrapes she gets into and has fun with her about them.  He also discovers that the attraction he first noticed when Faith was Jeremy's girlfriend hasn't gone away.  I loved seeing him fight those feelings because I knew it would be a losing battle.  I really liked seeing the way that he took such good care of her during and after her seizure and how that seemed to be the beginning of their new friendship.  It was obvious that his inability to talk about his emotions frustrated Faith, but he didn't seem to be able to do anything about it.  I loved the way he could show his feelings in the way that he took care of her and did things for her.  The scene at her grandparents anniversary party was pretty sweet of him.  I also liked his friendship with Jeremy and how it never changed.  It was pretty funny that it was Jeremy that finally made Levi face his feelings for Faith.  

Once again the secondary characters add another great layer to the story.  Faith's family was especially fun.  Her dad is pretty clueless about the intentions of the woman he calls a "friend" and his reactions are pretty funny.  Her sisters are older and still treat  her like the baby.  Her one sister has teenage children who argue with each other like normal kids do which is always fun to see.  Then we also get to experience the attempts that Pru's husband Carl makes to spice up their marriage, from sexting to hearing the kids complain about their parents' "activities".  Faith's grandparents have been married for sixty-five years and the way they treat each other is kind of bizarre, but seems to work for them.  I'll be interested to see if Levi's sister Sarah gets her own story, once she gets past her homesickness and attitude toward her brother.  Jeremy's presence throughout the book was great for showing the importance of friendship, but I sure did get frustrated with his guilt complex for awhile.  I'm looking forward to seeing where the next book goes.

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